HPC Eddie tuned at £135,000 3-year savings

Tuesday 2nd November 2010
Edinburgh supercomputer Courtesy:http://www2.ph.ed.ac.uk/~binoth/PPT_PhD_Projects.html

Edinburgh University has officially launched it latest supercomputer, Eddie, the first UK use of Intel's Westmere E5620 Quad core processors in IBM iDataplex servers, with water-cooling to remove 100% of heat generated by the system, combined with local temperate air to cool that water, providing almost free cooling for most of the year.

It is the second such centrally  HPC system provided at the University, the first being Eddie Mark 1, an IBM and Clustervision system provided in 2007 and 2008 (two phases). The University is also blessed with the first Maxwell (2 massively parallel Cray processors (Phase 2a and Phase 2b) with a Cray X2 vector processor in the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) of 2007, reinforced by the supercomputer HECToR, also operated on site by EPCC.

Designed and built by the Sheffield-based OCF that specialises in building and fine-tuning HPC HPV and associated storage systems, Eddie became operational in July. Based at the University’s Edinburgh Compute and Data Facility (ECDF) it is planned to enjoy a second significant upgrade in 2011 to enable researchers to undertake more complex, in-depth research getting results more quickly.

Both ECDF service director Tony Weir (L2R) and colleague, research system manager Dr Orlando Richards, with (below left) Julian Fielden MD of OCF (grown since 2002 to a 24-man £10m turnover team that is among the UK's top HPC expert design and fine tuners) are unanimous that Eddie is probably one the best tuned HPC's both from its physics approach to power use and cost saving efficiency (as in redesigned components saving watts off fan speed to reach upwards of 95% efficiency) as well as an exhaustive procurement process.

The HPC system has a full power 'draw' per node (that includes all infrastructure and storage - not just the node) of 271.86W per node.

An average for other solutions put forward during the process of procurement was 312.5W. Naturally, there is a cost saving as a result of this lower power draw. "We calculate that over three years we will save £135,000 in power alone," Weir says.

The launch of Eddie comes when the University as user, OCF as system designer and the HPC supplier IBM are definitely interested by two aspects of supercomputing: that of the enormous growth in data storage that is heavily implicated too with the current move to use Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) to lower cost and achieve higher computing performance.

("It's only a slight exaggeration to say that the storage needs early consideration before the design of the HPC system," says 'Dr Richards)

OCF's new technologies business development manager David Yip, is on the record that gold and black gold organisations (finance, oil and gas) were early pioneers approaching integrators to test GPU processors. His advice is for business to look for applications that can use GPU as an  accelerator and be prepared to fine-tune the applications.

Daniel Cohen (right) IBM's GM Barclays Integrated Account, who was at Eddie's launch, added that financial institutions are not only requiring to process vast data amounts for regulatory compliance reasons, but also needing analytical optimisation of raw data to mine out appropriate, attractive financial offerings for major clients.

"IBM has spent $10bn over a period in database system software acquisition of just these assets to do just that," he said.

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